Art and Sustainability: stARTup SF 2019 Artist Preview

For our 5th edition of stARTup San Francisco we’ve selected the theme “sustainability.” Sustainability means different things to our panelists, performers, non-profit partners, and exhibiting artists.

For Featured Artist Brian Singer this means sparking conversation and debate on the true costs of “free products,” and what we give up when we blindly agree to privacy policies we don’t read. His 300 foot long installation Privacy Policy will wrap around the entire courtyard banister of the Hotel Del Sol. Its letters will be made out of recycled tech company t-shirts, spelling out a cautionary message in an age of internet deregulation and en masse data breaches.

Privacy Policy  detail by  Brian Singer,   underwritten by    Mozilla   , makers of the Firefox browser and advocate for an open, accessible internet.

Privacy Policy detail by Brian Singer, underwritten by Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser and advocate for an open, accessible internet.

But for our friends at Recology San Francisco, sustainability and consumption are inextricably linked. Their Artist in Residence program provides Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, in addition to a large studio space and stipend. Our 2pm Sunday Art Conversation A Conversation About Art and Sustainability will feature mixed media artist Mark Eanes, and Recology alumni artists Jamil Hellu and Hannah Quinn, moderated by Terri Cohn as they discuss the symbiosis between sustainability, intention, and personal meaning in their art.

Following suit, five of our stARTup SF 2019 exhibiting artists shared what “sustainability” means to them, and what it brings to their art and artistic practice.

In the courtyard of the Hotel del Sol, hanging between two majestic palm trees, is Anastasia Schipani’s Nature Recollected.

As a child growing up in San Francisco, Anastasia was raised to be obsessed with fashion. Her mother guided her through Union Square to fawn over the wonders of Gucci and Hermes, rather than to appreciate the majestic natural environments that surround the city.

Nature Recollected  by  Anastasia Schipani

Nature Recollected by Anastasia Schipani

In this time of fast fashion adding to our environmental devastation, she is hand-sewing tapestries that are inspired by couture.

Her latest collection of tapestries is made from reclaimed denim, fish net, and found vintage textiles. For Anastasia, these tapestries are “a narrative landscape exploring the Garden of Eden we inherited, alongside the battle that exists to recognize and honor it.”


What is the sustainability of Indigenous culture and history in a greater society? Kristian Kabuay is fighting his own battle to recognize and honor Baybayin, a nearly extinct indigenous Filipino writing system, in Room 202.

Kristian Kabuay   at the Asian Art Museum

Kristian Kabuay at the Asian Art Museum

By incorporating and deconstructing calligraphy and graffiti methods, Kristian’s unique blend of ancient script and contemporary aesthetics bridges time and space, as well as challenges the necessity of economic value to prove Filipino culture and heritage “worthy” of preserving.

Why bring Baybayin to stARTup? “It seems like there's always a division between art and cultural art,” Kristian says. “I'd like to break those lines that institutions have created, or ones that my community has created ourselves.”

Like Anastasia and the artists from Recology, Cedric Chevalley takes a more environmental approach to “sustainability.” In Room 323 Cedric embraces upcyling, the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, and worthless products into new materials.

upsk8 Donuts (Broaches)  by  Cedric Chevalley , Skateboard's wood and magnet, 2018

upsk8 Donuts (Broaches) by Cedric Chevalley, Skateboard's wood and magnet, 2018

For Cedric there’s no greater joy than taking an unwanted object’s “best features and [bringing] them to the forefront for a new life as a piece of art.”

Big Mobius Donuts  by  Cedric Chevalley , Skateboard wood, aluminium, and magnets, 2018

Big Mobius Donuts by Cedric Chevalley, Skateboard wood, aluminium, and magnets, 2018

What does sustainability mean to Cedric? “As is the nature of life as human beings, we can fail. But we just have to decide that tomorrow is a whiteboard, a fresh page. We can always start anew, bright and shining.”

Emily Maddigan presents small and large-scale figures in Room 208, the results of seeking out misbegotten taxidermy via Craigslist and yard sales. Masculine taxidermy found in man caves mix with the feminine, just as found beach trash and wood scraps mix with colored beads, sequins, fringe, and pins.

Installation at  stARTup LA 2018 ,  Emily Maddigan

Installation at stARTup LA 2018, Emily Maddigan

After Emily’s love and care, her creatures are now “reconditioned,” a result of their “enchantment and redemption.” And much like Cedric and his practice, previous “unsophisticated materials and damaged forms re-emerge as glamorous,” and as art.

Here are a few of Emily’s creatures available for adoption:

Discarded and forgotten items also inspire Clint Imboden’s assemblages in Booth 2. “I am constantly visiting flea markets and estate sales searching for objects that give me pause,” Clint says of his foraging habits. Some of his favorites are old brushes, worn books, rusty screwdrivers, and battered crutches.

19 Inches installation  by  Clint Imboden , Assemblage of varying dimensions, 2017

19 Inches installation by Clint Imboden, Assemblage of varying dimensions, 2017

Where Clint diverges from Emily and Cedric is embracing the blemishes from his found and neglected objects. Blemishes are key visual attributes connecting each object to a previous life.

Food Borne - Botulism  by  Clint Imboden , Assemblage, 2018

Food Borne - Botulism by Clint Imboden, Assemblage, 2018

But why reference an item’s past life if it’s becoming something else? “I use materials that challenge viewers to consider multiple references in order to understand the full meaning of a piece,” he explains. At stARTup SF 2019 he will ask his viewers to “think beyond the object’s physical confines and ask: What are the associative qualities of these objects referring to?”

And to those attending stARTup San Francisco we will be asking: what does sustainability look like to you?


You can find more Mixed Media and Assemblage works from our artists in our Artists Archive.

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Feature by Content Curator Mica England